Go Forth and Die: Dethklok, Mastodon, Converge @ San Jose Event Center, 11/21/09

It was my fourth and final show of what was nicknamed the Mastoklok tour. From the first show of the tour in Portland, to two Texas shows last week, to tonight’s final show of the tour in San Jose, I’ve followed the local metal legends, one of the most polarizing hardcore bands, my heavy metal heroes, and the fictional band from my favorite TV show across the span of their seven week tour. It’s been a sort of mellow but highly meaningful journey.

I had bought a ticket to my three previous shows because I never rely on guestlist for out of town travel. However, for my final show I was to have a ticket and photo pass waiting for me. And, to keep with the theme from this week, that was not the case when I got to will call. However, this time I was not alone.

At first, I thought I was just too early. I was told that the lists hadn’t been turned in yet. Then the lists came as the doors opened for the general public, but I wasn’t on it. My photographer and blogger friends started arriving, and none of them were on it either. The people running will call told us to wait and they would try to sort things out. So Photo Ray, Umlaut, Photo Alan and I stand there shivering in the cold tapping our feet while everyone else goes in. It’s 6:30p, and I know High on Fire is on stage. I longingly stare at each person who successfully picks up their little envelopes at the window. It’s now 7p, and we’re told that we can get a ticket, but a photo pass will not be included.

Converge is on stage by the time we make it in, and I march up to the rail and grab one of my usual spots. I’m frozen from standing outside, but getting to that spot was comforting- by now I know everything about this show, and it’s like coming home or something. There really is nothing more for me to say about these bands- which is why I had planned on just photographing- so here’s what you would have seen in my pictures:

-Bannon twirling across the stage
-Ballou’s guitar intro to ‘Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast’
-Newton confronting someone in the front row who must have been yelling at them or something, telling them “you really hate us!” And then something with the words “fuck” and “pussies”.
-Koller tossing drumsticks and flipping off said audience members while never missing a beat.

The crowd actually booed them- there was only a minor disruption the first show of the tour during their set, but this was outright rude. I felt terrible for them, to end with an audience so disrespectful like that. I may not be in love with their music (though ‘Dark Horse’ and “WWF/RWF’ have really grown on me over the course of the tour), they put on the highest energy show of the four bands, and there is something to be said for that.

Within 5 seconds of Mastodon walking out on stage, I knew that this would be their best set of the tour. They brought the fire tonight. That said, it still didn’t hold a candle to that GAMH show earlier this year….but not much could. I really was hoping they would take some time off after this- but more shows have been announced…so they will continue to be one of the hardest working bands in metal.

If I were to take pictures of this set, you would have seen:

-The Sanders’ back bend with his beard pointed in the air. Also, the point at the end where he beats his chest and points at the crowd. By the way, he completely violates my don’t-play-with-your-keys-hooked-to-your-belt-loop rule, and I don’t care.
-Hinds playing the double neck guitar during ‘The Czar’, and the face tat of course
-Kelliher the lion guitarist roaring into the mic during his only vocal contribution during ‘Where Strides the Behemoth’
-Dailor singing while drumming, because I still don’t get how that’s possible
-The keyboardist- because I always forget that he exists…sorry, dude.

Towards the end of CTS, I saw Brendon Small walk out to watch part of the set from side stage. Other than that, it was the always great but same set I’d seen all tour.

For Dethklok, I moved up into the seats, you know, so I could see the cartoon better. This season of Metalocalypse has been so amazing….having 30 minutes has just made the show even more enjoyable. While I think the musicians that comprise Dethklok are much better than people give them credit for, it is a hard set to watch multiple times. This is mainly because I hate listening to the “you’re the best crowd” type stuff when I know that’s said every show. If I were to take pictures of Dethklok, here’s what you would have seen:

-Brendon Small

Yep, that’s about it. I mean, it’s dark up there, plus I’m a little infatuated with him because he’s one of those multitalented types, and he makes my favorite TV show. And he makes me laugh. The end of the show was the only variance in the set, where Small actually broke out a piece of paper and thanked all of his crew, and then the guys from Mastodon who had been sitting side stage walked out to say goodbye.

Multiple times during the set Brann Dailor walked out near me to talk to people. It was interesting because at one point all of these girls emerged from the crowd to have their pictures taken with him. Where had these girls been the rest of the show? Then at the end of the show he was there again, but I couldn’t go up to him. I had two choices of things to say: 1) “This was my 6th time seeing you this year/I followed the tour around” which just sounds creepy probably; or 2) “Thank you for writing CTS; your pain from your sister’s suicide led to an album which has really helped me through the year” which is just too heavy for a one line conversation. So I chose silence and a smile.

In hindsight, this was probably not the best tour to follow around. With a static setlist for all four bands, I had the tour memorized by the end. I also went to every show mostly alone, and out of the four tours I followed this year, this was the only one where I never met anyone in the tour (though I had met Small before in SF last year). Varied shows, show buddies, and meeting the band are all things that add a layer of excitement onto following a tour around and writing about it. But I recall the excitement that hooked me when this tour was announced, and I know that one day I’ll look back and remember fondly following Mastodon around in 2009. It’s interesting to think that what really came from following this tour were the things that it allowed me to do that were less related to the show itself. I visited Portland for the first time, I got one of Bill’s guitar picks and a nice poster in Houston for great keepsakes, I took a roadtrip through Texas with my mom, I drove by my childhood home for the first time in many years, I saw my dying grandfather for probably the last time, I visited my grandmother’s grave for the first time, I went to my first show in Austin since I had left, and I visited a family friend’s grave who had recently passed away. The Mastoklok tour may not have given me any of the best shows of my life, but it definitely served it’s purpose in the grander scheme of things.

“I guess they would say that we could set this world ablaze
Please, please take my hand
Please take my soul to rest
So we can always be around”

Mastodon – ‘The Last Baron’

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